Shazam

For plunging into the always-on feature future.

Shazam is like Pop Up Video for everyday life: Press a button and the app IDs any song, TV show, movie, or ad you hear. But its CEO, Rich Riley, believes we've reached a new smartphone era: "The world is going to an always-on state for apps," he says. In December, Shazam showed what that looks like with Auto Shazam, an opt-in feature that quietly keeps a diary of your day's playlist for you. What's the rationale?

1. No More Interruptions
"Why do we force users to push a button?" Riley asks. There's no good answer anymore. A button forces users to interrupt what they're doing—which can be either mildly annoying (at spin class) or downright dangerous (while driving). Now Shazam users can scroll through the catalog when it's convenient.

2. Users Aren't Afraid
Shazam stresses security—no audio picked up by the app is stored or heard by a human—and users seem to trust it enough to embrace an always-live microphone. In its first month, Auto Shazam logged 1 million daily recognitions. There's plenty of room to grow: Its 80 million users typically log 15 million songs, shows, and ads a day.

3. It's Ad-Friendly
TV shows and commercials account for 30% of Auto Shazam recognitions. With that info in hand, brands or bands can directly reach consumers that have already engaged with their content—and might even be excited for the follow-up.

[Blue Earbuds: BOONROONG via Shutterstock]